Death of U.N. peacekeepers
Nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers were killed in Ituri
on Friday. Just north of the Kivus, Ituri is just a little bit more unstable. Bunia, a town in northeast Congo that has seen its share of massacres but which has been relatively quiet for the past couple of years, seems like it is teetering on the brink again
. [The instability there is related to what's happening where I was but is something else again.]
For the conservatives who come down unfairly hard on the U.N., here are soldiers from a poor country dying in a poorer country, bravely as any American. Support the U.N., don't dismantle it.
The colonial museum in Belgium's new Congo exhibit
. It took a century, but the record stands corrected.
Salt in an Open Wound
The U.N. mission in Congo, the MONUC, is in upheaval over a sickening sexual abuse scandal. Peacekeepers of different nationalities are accused of exchanging money and food for sex with local women, and a French logisitics officer's been found to operate a pedophile pornography studio in Goma. Here's the BBC
What can one say about this? I would hope the scrutiny and embarassment for the U.N. will end these crimes. However, I am wary of the outcry raised by right-wing outlets over this scandal. I don't think it's cynical to say that they are concerned with discrediting the U.N., as they have been trying to do for some time, rather than with the Congolese population, which they've been ignoring for years. There is a massive epidemic of marauding militias in East Congo, and the U.N. crimes are, I hate to say, a drop in the bucket, and do nothing to obviate the necessary (if flawed) role the MONUC plays in restoring order there...
Killers from the woods
Who is doing all the raping and killing in North Kivu? The Washington Post
has the story... money quotes:
KIWANJA, Congo -- Julienne Kyakimwa, 34, was picking beans in her family garden when a man emerged suddenly from the jungle with a gun in his hand, a machete on his belt and a menacing look in his eye. The wild-looking man spoke in Kinyarwanda -- the language of terror to many people here -- as he roughly demanded she turn over the beans. [...]
A decade after the genocide in Rwanda, as many as 15,000 Hutu guerrillas are still hiding in the forests of eastern Congo, according to U.N. peacekeepers. Remnants of the militias and security forces that carried out the mass slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994 and fled across the border live off the fertile land, steal from villages and wait for the next opportunity to attack Rwanda. [...]
"In North Kivu, the war is still there."
O lost war of Africa
I think I'm going to try to turn this into a Congo-News blog, as filmmaking is too long and straightforward a process to talk about much. Why: Congo is the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time, and no one talks about it!
Here is east Congo in context, translated from Der Spiegel in the NYT
. As always it's simplistic, blames Rwanda too much, etc., but a good round-up.
Here is the arch-cynical War Nerd on Congo
, from a couple years ago. I love this guy, but he is a complete asshole. Maybe in his urge to offend the reader's sensibilities, he manages to capture some truths that others don't, amid the bluster (from his cubicle in Fresno).
As far as what's happening in the DRC now-- elections have been controversially postponed, fighting continues in Ituri, the border with Rwanda remains quiet...